Originally Posted by jljeppson
BUT I also don't depend on the income. I'm in a situation where I can afford to do it for the love and little else.
Oh golly, do I ever shudder to hear that!
don't get me wrong...in some ways I would love to be in that kind of situation. In some ways I absolutely despise that money has to be part of the equation of doing this work, for various reasons. I really very much hate it when a family just can't have a homebirth because they truly can't afford to pay anyone anything for the service.
And yet this is the world we live in. Many if not the great majority of us DO need the income; and more than that, because this is the world we live in and people have come to attach $$ so closely with 'value', I don't know as I could really let go of the money issue entirely even if I didn't need it. This is because my experience is that those who don't pay, too often also don't value the service OR the provider as much as they should. I don't need to be anyone's hero by any means--but neither do I want to be taken for granted. Also, when people know mws in your situation--who can afford not to charge much, or provide services often for free--then those people tend to think that only the 'most loving/spiritual' of mws will do this....and that those of us who do need (or just want!) the income are not as loving/spiritual as we should be.
Funny thing is, mws who charge little or nothing are rarely women who actually live in the kind of simplicity/poverty that 'doing it for love' might imply. They are most always women who don't have to charge, because they DO live well, sometimes very well indeed, on their partner's income. They are able to do midwifery for little or nothing without shortchanging themselves or children of any of the goods of a comfortable life, but all the while looking (to their clients and others) practically like saints because of free/cheap services. Which can make things harder on the rest of us ordinary mws who need or want to charge a fee in keeping with cost of living and other factors.
See, I think what I do is actualy PRICELESS. So hugely more valuable than mere money can begin to match! And yet I am the sole wage earner of my household, so I have to charge a fee. Again, because of the connection of $$ and value in this culture, I also *want* to charge a fee. Since I also want to be able to offer the service even to those of slender means, I have so far kept my fee low by comparison to national standards, and do accept barter and long term pmt plans sometimes (but only so much, I do have bills to pay that I can't pay with a snowblower). But then came the day when I walked into the million $$ home of 2 highly paid professionals, and the first thought I had was "Crap, do I ever need a sliding scale!"
Back to value, with this family in mind: I could tell that in a definite way they attached the same low value to my services that they perceived I had attached to *myself* (by charging such a low fee): sometimes they deferred making payments to me, so they could spend the money on vet services for an ancient (VERY ancient) dog that they didn't want to allow to die yet! (at least they were honest about it....and to be fair they were very decent people that I liked--I could just see the connection between my fee and their perceptions of me, which was no one's fault but my own for charging so little. You can be darn sure they paid their vet top dollar--because that was what was asked of them).
I hope that makes some sense as an analogy. I really don't mean to be offensive with this little rant--but I do hope you'll consider this, for your own sake as well as for midwives on the whole. To me it is somewhat of a feminist issue--we mws are women providing services to women doing THE fundamental women's work of childbearing. To not charge a reasonable fee is to continue to support the sexist assumption that women's work--both the work of childbearing and the work of supporting birth--is essentially without value, is too unimportant to be worth high $$. It is to affirm our own oppression and poverty, in other words--and women still earn far less than men in this era, still own/control far less of the property and resources than men. Even though mws do the important work of helping keep birth/mamas/babies safe, and even though *only* women can do the necessary and highly valuable work of childbearing! I really do not want to participate in any practice that helps continue to affirm my lack of value as a professional in a particularly female field, which also happens to demean the enormously important and demanding women's work of childbearing.
Anyway, sorry to go so far OT--and jljeppson, while obviously I jumped off of your comment, please know that I am speaking generally about this issue and not meaning to pick on you ...I hope you'll forgive my bluntness here.
I too have been thinking about a sliding scale. Unfortunately I have no idea how to start with this.